4 Things You Can Do Right Now To Prevent Oral Cancer
How to Lower Your Risk of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is among the top 10 most common cancers in American adults. It can develop aggressively and spread rapidly in its later stages, and unfortunately, it is often underdiagnosed due to a lack of screening. However, you’re not powerless when it comes to oral cancer prevention. In fact, you can learn how to prevent oral cancer and ensure early diagnosis with Dr. Monroe’s help.
Here are just four things you can do right now to reduce your chances of developing oral cancer.
1. Avoid irritants that can aggravate or inflame soft tissues in your mouth.
Extensive research supports the idea that chronic inflammation contributes to the development and spread of several types of cancer, including oral cancer. One study even shows a heightened risk of oral cancer in patients with chronic irritation and inflammation from poorly fitting dentures.
With this research in mind, it’s important to avoid oral irritants that can lead to inflammation of your gums and other soft tissues by:
- Being mindful of how your dentures fit and reporting changes to your dentist right away
- Maintaining regular six-month checkups and cleaning appointments with your dentist
- Following up with treatment procedures as swiftly as your schedule allows
- Practicing excellent oral hygiene at home to prevent plaque build-up and gingivitis
- Limiting processed foods high in sugar and starches, and acidic beverages
Properly-fitted dentures are safe and affordable restorative solutions, but implant-supported dentures are a fantastic alternative for anyone who wants a low-maintenance solution for tooth loss. Dr. Monroe can offer excellent insight into whether you’re a candidate for dental implant surgery.
2. Be proactive in getting sufficient vitamins and minerals necessary for oral health.
Diet plays a vital role in our overall health and the prevention of diseases like cancer. Eating a varied diet with an emphasis on whole or minimally-processed foods is fantastic, but be cautious of focusing too strongly on macros. Don’t forget about meeting daily recommendations for micronutrients.
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal health. Even a well-balanced diet can still have micronutrient deficiencies, especially if your dietary lifestyle eliminates or greatly restricts major food groups, such as meat, vegetables, or whole grains. It’s beneficial to fill the gaps in your diet by proactively supplementing with vitamins and minerals in which you may be deficient.
Many studies on dietary supplements and cancer prevention are available, with some focusing solely on the relationship between cancer prevention and vitamin supplementation. Vitamin D has been shown to be especially effective at bolstering the immune system and protecting the body from developing cancer cells.
Taking a daily multivitamin is highly recommended, but we also encourage annual blood tests with your primary care provider (PCP) to check for any micronutrient deficiencies. Your PCP will then safely recommend additional supplementation of any vitamins or minerals your body lacks.
3. Visit a dentist who includes oral cancer screens during routine checkups.
Oral cancer is much easier to treat during its earliest stages of development. Early stage one and stage two oral cancer often involve surgery to remove the tumor as the main therapy. Radiation therapy is often a secondary therapy if a patient is considered at high risk for recurrence. More advanced oral cancer, stages three and four, are much more difficult to treat and have a higher risk of recurrence.
The key to catching oral cancer during stage one or two is through oral cancer screenings done by a dentist. Not all dentists offer early oral cancer screenings, but Dr. Monroe is a Greenville dentist who includes it as an essential step in every routine checkup appointment. Even if you don’t smoke and have impeccable oral health, having an oral cancer screening every six months is highly recommended.
4. Strongly consider quitting tobacco use and limiting alcohol consumption.
The relationship between tobacco use and oral cancer is undeniable. Not every smoker will develop oral cancer, but an astonishing 90% of people with oral cancer use tobacco on a regular basis. Statistics show smokers have a 6x higher risk of oral cancer than non-smokers, while oral tobacco users have an astonishing 50x higher risk than non-users.
Excessive alcohol consumption is another lifestyle habit linked to oral cancer. More than 75% of people with oral cancer drink alcohol on a daily basis. The combination of alcoholism and chronic tobacco use is an especially dangerous combination.
Quitting tobacco and alcohol is tough, but the temporary discomfort is well worth its positive impact on your mental and physical health. If you need help quitting, a quick Google search will yield plenty of resources to begin your journey. You can also call our office if you need help finding local resources in Greenville, SC.
Schedule your first oral cancer screening at Monroe Family Dentistry today.
If you’re concerned about oral cancer, or haven’t yet had an oral cancer screening, take a moment today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Monroe. You can book a visit by calling our Greenville office during business hours, or feel free to use our online booking form.